Ascension (B)
May 09, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.









Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3,6-7,8-9

R/. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

Second Reading Eph 4:1-13

I, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” 9 When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things. 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Gospel Acclamation

Gospel Mk. 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the eleven, and he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Catena Nova

[Where the Ascension is celebrated on Sunday, please refer to the entry for the Seventh Sunday of Easter]


Cloudy. . .With Some Sun

            They saw the cloud before: the cloud which took him from their sight the day he ascended into heaven (I).  It was also there the day he was transfigured when a cloud appeared and covered them (Mk. 9:7). Both clouds appeared on a mountain.  The first one hid Jesus for just a while.  But this one keeps him hidden, until he comes again.

            Two men were there the other time the cloud appeared: Moses and Elijah. There are two angels here today: dressed in white garments (I).  But like the cloud, they’re different too.  They’re more like the pair Luke told us about in the empty tomb, Easter morning.  You remember: the ones who asked, Why do you seek the living among the dead? (Lk. 24:5)  Though their question today betrays the same impatience: Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven (I).

            And there’s one final difference between then and now. Jesus came down the mountain of transfigura­tion to face death.  According to Luke, that was the topic of conversation with Moses and Elijah: they were speaking of his departure which he was about to accomplish at Jersualem (Lk. 9:31).  Today, however, it’s the disciples who make for Jerusalem -- and their own share in the Lord’s passion.  Glory, for the time being, will be obscure: like the cloud that took him from their sight.

            So the two mountains -- of the transfiguration and of the ascension -- with their different clouds remind us of an important truth: how God, at one time, appears, oh so present, and at other times, oh so absent.  How, at one time, we sense God’s presence surrounding us with dazzling light, and at another, God’s absence, shrouding us like thick fog.

            Meaning the cloud of transfigura­tion is a cloud of presence.  Like the one which led the Hebrews in the desert; or the one that fell on the tent where Moses conversed with God face to face; or like the cloud of God’s glory which filled the ancient temple: all signs of God’s presence: Clouds that reveal more than they hide: Clouds from which God’s voice is heard.

            But the cloud of ascension is a cloud of absence: A cloud that hides more than it reveals. Like the cloud that fell on Mt. Sinai when God made covenant with Israel, this cloud shields from view. And though Jesus continues to work with us, with signs that accompany those who believe (cf. G) -- well, they’re just that -- signs --  and we have no clear proof of his presence.  So the most we can say is this cloud of ascension signals him present-in-absence, present in mystery.

            Which is why the Lord’s ascension is a bittersweet feast: with the future and the present, glory and humility, freedom and captivity, all mixed togeth­er:  For, yes, we have hope of a future day, when we will attain the full stature of Christ (II) -- yet for now we must live from day to day:  leading a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called (cf. II): the future and the present mixed together.

            And yes, we bask in glory today, for the Lord Jesus has been taken up into heaven and [sits] at the right hand of God (G) -- yet we must live beneath the heavens: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another (II): glory and humility mixed together.

            And surely, we know Christ ascended on high [to] make captivity itself a captive -- yet we sometimes live in the lower parts of the earth (II) which hold us in bondage: freedom and captivity mixed together.

            So then, our craving for future glory and freedom must, for the time being, be content with Christ’s presence in absence, presence in mystery: that is, content with the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist.  For in the Spirit, Jesus dwells with the Church, as in a temple.  And in the Eucharist, he remains with us, making us one body and one Spirit (II).

            So when God seems absent, hidden by a cloud that recedes further and further from our sight, the Spirit and the Eucharist show us God’s mysterious presence.  And when God seems close, his presence billowing around us like a bright cloud, the Spirit and the Eucharist let us dwell already in heavenly realms (Prayer over the Gifts).  To God then, be the glory, through Christ Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, forever, and ever.  Amen.

Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

For all who share one Lord, one faith, one baptism: Adorned with a rich variety of gifts, may the church bear witness to the ends of the earth.

For all races and nations: May the church of the one God and Father of all make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

For prisoners of conscience and others held captive: By the gift of grace, may they persevere in humility and patience.

For the neophytes, baptized with the Holy Spirit and called to witness: Together may we and they come to the maturity of the full stature of Christ.

For the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in our community and throughout the church: May their work of ministry build up the body of Christ in unity of faith.

For our community’s mission to go forth and proclaim the good news: May we sense the Lord working with us and confirming the message.

For those taken from our sight by death: May they live with Christ in glory at the right hand of God.

God of power and might,  in the mystery of the ascension you have raised up and glorified your Son and exalted our humanity at your right hand. Confirm the good news your Church proclaims, so that when Christ returns in glory  all nations may be gathered into the kingdom, where he lives and reigns with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn (Words: Christopher Wordsworth)


See, the Conqu'ror mounts in triumph;
See the King in royal state,
Riding on the clouds, his chariot,
To his heav'nly palace gate:
Hark! the choirs of angel voices
Joyful Alleluias sing
And the portals high are lifted
To receive their heav'nly King.

Who is this that comes in glory,
With the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
He has gained the victory;
He who on the cross did suffer,
He who from the grave arose,
He has vanquished sin and Satan,
He by death has spoiled his foes.

Thou hast raised our human nature
In the clouds to God's right hand;
There we sit in heav'nly places,
There with thee in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels,
Man with God is on the throne;
Mighty Lord, in thine ascension
We by faith behold our own.

Glory be to God the Father,
glory be to God the Son,
dying, risen, ascending for us,
who the heavenly realm has won;
glory to the Holy Spirit,
to One God in persons Three;
glory both in earth and heaven,
glory, endless glory, be.

 Communion Antiphon

Closing Hymn (Charles Wesley)